An expat in France: cafe culture shock
The cafe culture in France is as precious and historical as its wine, writes blogger Maria Foley.
“It was at the Café de Foy, eyed by police spies while standing on a table brandishing two pistols, that Camille Desmoulins roused his countrymen with his historic appeal — ‘Aux armes, citoyens!’ — on July 12th 1789. The Bastille fell two days later, and the French revolution had begun.”
I could never bring myself to check out the Parisian Starbucks, though — there’s something rather perverse about swilling a Tazo iced green tea latte in the city that houses Les Deux Magots, the legendary café where such luminaries as Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir philosophized over unfiltered Gauloises and steaming cups of joe.
There’s no denying Canadians love their Timmy’s — the company, established by a former NHL hockey player in 1964, now boasts 3,148 locations in Canada (in addition to 602 in the United States, several outlets in Ireland and the UK, and one at the Canadian Forces military base in Kandahar, Afghanistan). But you couldn’t really call it a café in the French sense of the word.
The convivial nature of the café is as much a part of the experience as the beverage. Laptops are rare. Chatting with friends over a café crème — or even sitting alone nursing an espresso, smoking meditatively* and watching the world go by — is at the very heart of café culture.
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